Steady McDonald outlasts Cowan to win State Amateur Championship

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By Ken MacLeod

The drivable par-4 17th hole at Southern Hills Country Club was Ryder Cowan’s friend all week, until the final match.

He had driven on the green for a key birdie in his 22-hole slugfest with Will Sides. He pitched to eight inches for a huge birdie in his quarterfinal victory over Stephen Carney and drove the green again for birdie in his 1-up semifinal victory over Mesa Falleur.

Needing another birdie on 17 to even up the championship match with William McDonald, Cowan drove just left of the green and pitched to inside 10 feet. This time he shockingly raced his first putt 4 feet past the hole and missed it coming back. McDonald, who had driven into a greenside bunker but then left his first attempt in the bunker, pitched out and converted the par to etch his name into state championship history.

“I kind of hated to win it that way with Ryder three-putting, but it was a great match,” said McDonald, the tall, smooth-swinging Oklahoma City native who has two years of eligibility left at the University of Cincinnati, coached by former University of Oklahoma All-American Doug Martin.

“I’ve been playing in OJGT events since I was 13. This is the biggest tournament in the state and this is the best golf course in the state. So it’s really just a dream come true for me to win it here.”

McDonald played the same steady golf in the championship match that had benefitted him in his 3 and 2 semifinal victory over defending champion Ian Davis, and really all week. He joked that he got to play seven rounds at Southern Hills for his entry fee, the best deal ever.

Left to right, Ryder Cowan and William McDonald.

“I drove it awesome this morning and in most of my match with Ryder,” he said. “That makes it so much easier to make pars out here. Also you’re not going to be able to avoid 8-footers for par out here and I was able to make a lot of those, so real happy about that.”

Davis bogeyed five of his first six holes to fall five behind through seven and though he played well from there never really put any pressure on McDonald, who was a par machine throughout. In the final with Cowan he made 13 pars along with two birdies and two bogeys.

The match, however, was anything but two guys making pars. The players only tied three holes. Cowan, who will be a freshman at the University of Oklahoma in the fall, birdied the first and bogeyed the second, a sign of things to come. He made brilliant birdies on holes 11 and 15, but also failed to get up-and-down from greenside bunkers three times. He finished with four birdies and five bogeys.

Cowan made bogeys on holes 7 and 8 to fall two down for the first time in his six matches. But as he had throughout the previous five matches, he struck back quickly and did not let the errors compound. He won the next three holes to go 1 up, making a birdie on 11 while McDonald made his only two bogeys of the round on 9 and 10.

“Disappointed to make those two bogeys, but you knew Ryder was going to punch back,” McDonald said. “He’s an unbelievable player. Just happy I was able to come back myself after that.”

McDonald evened the match with a birdie on 13 and took the lead with a conceded eagle on the par-5 16th when Cowan hit his layup shot into a pond right of the green. That set the stage for the dramatics on 17.

Will McDonald

Cowan was vying to become the first player in state history to win the OGA Stroke Play, OGA Junior and State Amateur Championship in the same year. He’ll have to settle for two of the three with a second in the other, still a remarkable year. He and close friend and high school teammate Byrant Polhill, who finished second to Cowan in the OGA Junior, teamed up with Polhill serving as caddy for all six rounds. Polhill will play at Kansas State in the fall

“It was a good week and always love being with Bryant,” Cowan said. “It was hot out there and I just overcooked that first putt on 17. The second one coming back we read a ball outside on the right and it just didn’t move.

Ryder Cowan

“It was a good match and congrats to Will, he played well.”

Cowan was four up early in his semifinal victory over Falleur, who plays at UMKC and hails from Muskogee. Falleur roared back with a birdie on the par-4 12th, an eagle on the par-5 13th, won 14 with a par and the par-5 16th with another birdie. Cowan’s birdie on 17 proved the difference, just as his bogey there did at the last.


OGA State Amateur Championship
at Southern Hills Country Club


William McDonald, Oklahoma City, def. Ian Davis, Edmond 3 and 2

Ryder Cowan, Edmond, def. Mesa Falleur, Muskogee, 1 up


McDonald def. Cowan 2 and 1

Mesa Falleur



Ian Davis
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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source